The Presidents of Parliament from the 47 Council of Europe Member States and many partner, observer and neighbouring countries, along with the Presidents of other international assemblies, met in Strasbourg at the end of last month for a European Parliamentary Summit.
Some 60 Presidents, together with 300 other delegates, attended the conference, organised by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). They discussed three current affairs issues:
– ‘Our Common European Home’: the next 70 years, presented by Richard Ferrand, President of the National Assembly of France, and Marina Carobbio Guscetti, President of the National Council of Switzerland.
– ‘Implementing the UN 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals’: contribution by Parliaments, presented by Gabriela Cuevas Barron, President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
– ‘Women in politics and in the public discourse’: what role can National Parliaments play in combating the increasing level of harassment and hate speech towards female politicians and Parliamentarians, presented by Tone Wilhelmsen Trøen, President of Norway’s Stortinget and Michael Kaufman, author and co-founder of the White Ribbon Campaign.
PACE President Liliane Maury Pasquier (above left with Speaker Konstantinos Tassoulas) and CoE Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić gave the opening addresses.
The Speaker of the Hellenic Parliament, Konstantinos Tassoulas, attended the Conference of Presidents at the headquarters of the international organisation in Strasbourg. The Greek Parliament President addressed the first topic on Europe’s future and prospects.
On the sidelines of the Conference, the Speaker of the Hellenic Parliament had bilateral meetings with the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Mrs. Liliane Maury Pasquier, as well as with the President of the French Senate, Gérard Larcher.
A Conference of the Parliamentary Secretary Generals of the Member States of the CoE was also held within the framework of the Conference to discuss issues related to the European Centre for Parliamentary Research and Documentation (ECPRD), such as its priorities and the 2020 -2021 programme. Special Secretary of the House, Vassilios Bagiokos, was in charge of the proceedings.
In his address, Parliament President Tassoulas pointed out to the participants that he spoke as a politician and not as a prophet and talked about what must be done over the next 70 years and mainly about what priorities there are. He reminded that the Council of Europe was born 70 years ago out of the horrors of WWII in order to defend human rights in the European continent. “Our main objective in the immediate future is to address the vital challenge of climate change. If we don’t do that, there is no point to any programme on well-being and economic progress, on innovation in education or new competencies in local administration. If the protection of the natural environment is not immediate and sustainable, i.e. if we don’t implement the Paris Agreement and the UN Agenda 2030, then we will be deprived of the framework within which we usually shape the story of our lives, taking it for granted, as unassailable and infinite,” he stressed.
“Is however, the climate change issue on a par with various crises of the past? It is clearly a bigger problem. But we do have the knowledge and the objectives at the ready and voted on. What we now need is the democratic political will. Greece, for example, already ardently supports the strategic long-term vision for an EU economy that will not burden the climate by 2050,” he remarked. “This is why I chose the subject of the next 70 years. Similarly today, in this significant and esteemed European Assembly I can finally predict that, yes, in the next 70 years as well, our common European home will be solid, because as we have done so far, we will yet again handle the biggest and final challenge of our era by reconciling with the environment with responsibility and leadership,” he concluded.